adventures with the vet · shoes · surgery · Uncategorized

Footgate 2018, the continuing saga

So. You probably forgot (I know I was trying to) among all the OTHER things that have gone on in the last three months that as of August, Tristan is back in shoes. Which is both budget- and soul-crushing for me.

The good news, I guess: they’ve worked exactly as they were supposed to. He’s clearly a touch more comfortable (not, like, dramatically, but he’s got a bit more float in his trot, and he’s a bit more willing to go forward). And his foot is clearly more stable.

When he was at the hospital, we had the surgeon (the same one who did his surgery 6 years ago) look closely at the foot with an eye to everything we’ve been talking about.

The surgeon’s takeaway was that he wasn’t surprised at all that the sole was growing back differently; that was just an inevitable consequence of surgery on the foot.

Interestingly, though, is that he was not nearly as concerned as the farrier was about the line of bacteria that was getting up into the foot. He felt that unless and until Tris was lame he would not worry about it.


I’m not entirely comfortable with “horse goes lame” as an indicator of problems when we have visual evidence for impending problems, but it’s at least a useful thing to keep in mind for how far we have to go before we start to really freak out.

So we’re still on the wait and see path. Specifically, we’ll wait until the foot grows back down to the toe with decent sole again, filling in the hole that the farrier had to keep cutting back. Then, once it does so, we’re going to sale the toe with Hoof Armor.

Image result for hoof armor

Farrier is a touch skeptical. I did a fair amount of back-and-forth emailing with the company owners and some sleuthing in endurance forums (where this product is most frequently used) and I think in our conditions, for our application, it has a decent chance of success.

Though it’s intended to protect sensitive soles on tough terrain, we’d be using it to simply create a barrier between the ground (and bacteria) and the funky scar tissue spot on his sole. The hope is that re-applying it periodically will keep it refreshed. It’s supposed to last from trim to trim, but I’m not counting on anything. If need be, I can rasp it off and re-apply every two weeks or so.

We’ll see. I’ll definitely report back whenever it is we get to this point – it will most likely be later in the winter, as he’s got a decent amount of sole to regrow.

In other foot issues, his hind foot heel grab is healing up more or less fine. Some proud flesh, but the nascent infection has been kicked to the curb. I’m still re-wrapping every two days and swapping back and forth between the antibiotic cream and the steroid cream, like we did with the front foot. So far our theory of “it will heal better if we jump on it quickly and it’s not so damn hot and humid” has proved true. Like the front foot, he hasn’t taken a lame step on it. Except when I scrub it down before re-wrapping (which I’m sure stings) he doesn’t even know it’s there.

Bottom left is last Friday. These were taken roughly at each re-wrapping so represent about 10 days of healing. WAY faster than the stupid RF.



diy · shoes

What should I do with Tristan’s old horseshoes?

So, Tristan is barefoot again. Which was working well, until it wasn’t. Thankfully, the current abscess problem seems to be unrelated to his newly-bare feet, so he will stay barefoot.

When the farrier pulled his shoes last winter, I asked him to set them aside. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them, but I knew I’d want them somehow. I then tossed them into my tack trunk and there they sat.

Here they are today.

Nope, never even cleaned ’em.
So, now I’m pondering ideas for what to do with them. Ideally, I’d like them to be displayed or decorative in some way in the new house – preferably in my study, which will be somewhat horse-themed.
I searched Pinterest, and got the usual assortment of ideas, but none of them spoke to me.

Plus an assortment of really tacky stuff.
You get the idea.
This comes closest to what I’d really like.
Simple, straightforward, and really keeps the focus on the horseshoe as the thing that I am interested in, not as a vehicle for other things.
But I’m still not sold on it. My indecisiveness about this is the main reason these have sat for a year.
So now I’m crowdsourcing this. Has anyone seen nice ways to display a beloved horse’s old shoes, in a way that reminds you of the horse? That’s not just a generic use of a horseshoe? Ideally something a little more understated and classy; “country chic” is very much not my style.
barefoot · farrier · shoes

Exciting news: Tristan is barefoot again!

I’ve been keeping a bit of a secret, horse blog world. Tristan’s odyssey with his feet is no secret, and for the past 2.75 years or so he has been wearing front shoes to help support that RF as it continues to try and grow normally.

Every few months, I’ve asked the farrier if he thought maybe, this time, Tris could go barefoot? The farrier is not a shoes-at-all-cost guy. He is an excellent farrier whom I have seen praised entirely independently on the COTH forums, and, you know, that NEVER happens.

The last time I asked was this past fall, and when we pulled his shoes as part of that vet visit, the toe still wasn’t right, which was discouraging. That was the same vet visit at which we pulled blood to test for Cushings, and that came back positive, and I started hoping that maybe the reason he (still!) wasn’t healing 100% was because of the Cushings. I figured I’d ask again in the spring.

Well, two weeks ago, I asked, expecting to get a sigh and a shrug again.

Instead: the farrier pulled off his shoes and was thrilled. My horse had foot again! Proper foot! There was no reason he couldn’t go barefoot. To say I was excited was the understatement of the century.


You can still see the abnormality at the toe, interfering with the white line, in the bottom of the foot, but it’s entirely possible that will never go away. 
Are they perfect? Gosh, no. We’ve got some work to do on shoring up the heel and rehabbing the sole. In particular, I’m pained by the white line – but I saw the same thing when we pulled his hind shoes, and I know how to fix it. We’ve already spent quality time with Durasole, and a nice long White Lightning soak is in our near future.
The best part? I gave him a few days off, with some handwalking and long grooming sessions, and he did not look even slightly hesitant when I walked him back and forth, even on the harder aisle. The barn staff confirmed that he wasn’t in the slightest bit tender on the pebbly, hard dirt road to get to turnout.
So four days later, I longed him, and he was raring to go, bucking and farting and giving big sweeping trot strides. I longed him again the next day, and when he still looked 100% sound, I got on him. And rode him. And I’ve been riding him consistently, at the walk and trot and a bit of canter, without a single problem. 
On Friday afternoon, I took him out on the dirt roads around the barn, which afforded a great test; they were waterlogged and soft, but not yet gravelly. Harder than the indoor footing for sure, but nowhere near the rock-hard summer roads. He was terrific, and even jigged around a bit.
Seriously, how did he wear shoes for 2.75 years, sustain a major injury + surgery, and then come out of that so beautifully sound? I have to go find some wood to knock on.
And so, the saga of Tristan’s shoes ends: August 18, 2012 – March 25, 2015.

farrier · shoes · winter

Winter Shoeing 2015

The farrier was out last week, and Tristan has his winter snow shoes on.

Two main changes to the shoes: first, the studs you can see at the heel, and second, the anti-ice rubber thingy. The idea is that the studs will help him grip on ice, and the rubber thingy will help prevent those awful ice snowballs from building up in his hooves.
I know people go back and forth on whether to do studs &/or borium for the winter. I can see both sides, but ultimately, I trust our farrier. I also tend to feel that non-studded shoes are the most slippery thing a horse can possibly wear – far worse than barefoot, booted, or studded shoes. If Tristan (still, sigh) can’t go barefoot in the front, then I’d rather he have the studs in.
Does the rubber thing work? Yeah, it helps. It’s not 100%. Sometimes snow still gets packed in, but it seems to do so much less often, and it’s easier to dig out when it does.

barefoot · farrier · shoes

Tristan and the Farrier

I am still catching up on blog-reading, and SprinklerBandit’s post about Courage’s problems with the farrier made me realize I hadn’t done an update on Tristan and his farrier behavior in a little while.

Short version? Problems solved!

If you haven’t been paying minute attention to every word, you may not realize that about two years ago, Tristan got shoes for the first time, four all around. My trainer and farrier at the time jointly convinced me that he would move much better and that he really needed it. I agreed to try it, after 7 years of barefoot going, as an experiment.

The day before he was to get his shoes for the first time, he blew his abscess. Farrier put four shoes on him anyway, assuming it would blow over quickly. That didn’t happen. See the “abscess” and “surgery” label for that whole sordid tale.

Essentially, it looks like Tristan associated getting shoes hammered on with the pain from the infected piece of broken bone that was now erupting through his entire foot. He started acting up for the farrier, becoming nearly impossible to touch to the point of being violently dangerous. I worked with him for hours and hours on end. Eventually, we simply sedated him for farrier visits.

That reached its height with an absurd visit in which he blew through a double dose of tranquilizer and laid down in the middle of a farrier visit in a fit of…something cranky. The quick-witted assistant trainer/barn manager, M., sat on his head while he was down and the farrier finished trimming. Then they let him up and he was good as gold for the rest of that shoeing.

Things continued to go up and down, though they were never again as bad as that day. About nine months ago, the barn switched farriers – for a lot of reasons. It just so happened through a series of mixups, I did not get tranquilizer from the vet in time. I had emailed the new farrier (new-ish; he’d been doing other horses in the barn with great success, it’s just that we added the whole barn to his list. It’s kind of complicated) with a complete background on everything that had been happening. I wanted him to make a very informed decision about dealing with Tristan.

He wasn’t worried, and you know what? Tristan behaved. Not perfectly, that first day; as the farrier explained, he had to take a lot of short breaks and read Tristan’s body really, really well. He backed off when Tristan got nervous or fussy, and discovered that if he held the foot in a different way and used a slightly different technique in hammering the nails, Tristan was much happier.

Moral of the story: new farrier ROCKS.

That being said, it looks like we’ll be doing shoes for a while yet. New farrier also thinks that it will be some time before Tristan’s front feet can handle barefoot again comfortably, and I haven’t yet been able to put together a coherent plan for the transition. Maybe once the nasty abscess hole (still!1!!1!) grows out, we will take a swing at it and see.

But in the meantime, so glad to have my well-behaved pony back!

farrier · shoes · surgery

Feet Update – 1 year post-surgery

I missed an important milestone last week: one year since Tristan’s surgery. One year ago today, he was on stall rest in recovery, and now he is back in full work. I am amazed and indescribably grateful that everything worked out so well.

Here’s a front foot comparison, for the record.

1 week post-surgery. The chip out of the front separated during surgery;
there were additional abscess holes at the top of it and the hoof wall
was just that weak.

Yesterday! The bit of white is the absolute last remaining sign of the surgery/abscess.
You can still see/feel a sliiiiiight bulge but it is continuing to fade, ie far less
noticeable at the coronet than at the toe.

 Also! Remember last summer how worried I was about white line in his hind feet? I could carve out chunks of his quarters and his white line with the hoof pick, it was that mushy. Check out his hind feet today. Gorgeous.

In late April, the shoes come off the front feet and we are back to all-barefoot, all the time. FINALLY.

2012 show season · barefoot · farrier · shoes

Welcome back, have a crisis!

I was already a bit nervous about being away for two weeks on a road trip. It had been a complete mental vacation: certainly I missed Tris and I missed riding, but we were so involved in what we were doing that I wasn’t planning and fretting constantly like I usually do, so I felt behind the ball.

My nervousness was not helped when I pulled him out of the stall and looked at his RF. He’s had a small toe crack there for a little while now; I’ve been keeping an eye on it, and had asked the farrier to come check it just before I left. He did so, and took the toe down pretty far, but there was some crack left. While I was gone, the crack moved aggressively. There was some flare on the right side of the hoof, and a bit of a bulge at the coronet band in line with the hoof. None of which I was a fan of.

Crack in RF, with a bit of flaring all around, worst on the outside.
Side view. If you look closely, you can see a bit of a bump near the coronet band, about where my car’s tire is.

He was reluctant to go to work, but not off, and he is reluctant to go to work on the best of days. I did not ride particularly well, and was second-guessing myself quite a lot, wondering if I should pull him up. He took some off steps, but he was never lame, and when I pushed, he moved quite nicely.

Nevertheless, as soon as he settled back into his stall I called the farrier. We’ve had this conversation before, when he had his abscess: he’s working with more intensity than ever before, and wearing down his feet much harder. The quality of hoof is still great and rock-hard, but the quantity is lacking. I’m sure that contributed to the aggressive growth of the crack. He’s certainly chipped away at his toes before, but he’s never had a crack move like this before.

It was pretty clear to me that the crack wasn’t going to heal without help. After almost seven years of going barefoot (save for one cycle in which we tried to support his heels with absolutely no difference in his way of going, so pulled the shoes), he’ll get four shoes all around on Friday, with pads & packing in the front to support. I am a bit sad; I really though we could make a go of it. Perhaps somewhere I could control his turnout environment completely, and check him every single day, and work with a farrier who specialized in barefoot trimming, we might’ve. I can’t help but feel like a bit of a failure – either because I’ve pushed him too hard or because I haven’t managed his gorgeous feet well enough. All those conflicts are internal, though. I’ve always said that I would get him shoes when he gave me signs that he was no longer comfortable barefoot. We’re there.

He was pretty pleased to get some extra hand grazing time while I got my camera.

The cherry on top was the call this morning from the barn that he was sore on his RF, probably from riding last night. So I feel rotten about that. He’ll be on stall reset until Friday, when he gets his shoes. I’m not quite sure what to do about the XC school we have planned for Saturday. It may be that he just needs the support of shoes, and he’ll be totally sound. It may be that he needs some time off to adjust.

Going forward, however – we are entered at Valinor on Saturday following, and King Oak after that. King Oak closes on the 21st of August, so he needs to show significant improvement by then or I might consider scratching him. I’d be heartbroken to get so close to our goal of going recognized and have to cancel it, but – that’s horses, I guess.